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All about “Pepper”, a low-calorie vegetable

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The pepper is the symbol of summer that can be found in salads as well as ratatouilles. It is low in calories, rich in vitamin and easy to cook. This fruit vegetable is native to Mexico and is said to have been brought back to Europe by Christopher Columbus.

Characteristics of the pepper:

  • Rich in antioxidants;
  • Rich in vitamin C;
  • Rich in fiber;
  • Stimulates intestinal transit;
  • Limits the risks of certain cancers.

What is pepper?

Pepper identity card

  • Family: Solanaceae;
  • Origin: Mexico;
  • Season: June to September;
  • Color: Green, yellow, red, purple;
  • Flavor: slightly sweet.

Characteristics of the bell pepper

The most famous form of the pepper is a vegetable with four lobes whose colors vary from green to red depending on the maturity.

Differences with nearby foods

From a culinary point of view, there are two main categories of peppers: the strong ones, which serve mainly as a spice, and the sweet ones, also called “peppers”, which are generally eaten as vegetables.

Word from the nutritionist

To make the most of the benefits of the vitamins and minerals contained in the pepper, it is advisable to consume it raw.

Nutritional values

For 100g of cooked pepper:

Nutrients                                                             Quantities                                                            
Protein 1 g
Fat 0.3g
Carbohydrates 4.8g
Water 91.5g
Fibers 1.5g
Vitamin C 100 mg
Vitamin A 1250 µg
Vitamin B2 0.02 mg
Vitamin B6 0.25 mg
Potassium 160 mg
Calcium 8 mg

 

11 benefits of bell pepper: why eat it?

  1. Antioxidants are compounds that protect the cells of the body from damage caused by free radicals. These are very reactive molecules which are implicated in the development of cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers and other diseases linked to aging. The antioxidant activity of peppers can vary according to their stage of ripening, but also according to their geographical origin, the season and the growing conditions. Green and red peppers contain varying amounts of several types of antioxidants such as carotenoids and flavonoids. Red peppers contain more than green ones.
  2. Peppers are among the best sources of vitamin C. The content of this vitamin would increase during the ripening of the pepper and would be about twice higher in red peppers than in greens, which have not reached their full maturity. Vitamin C has antioxidant properties and may be partly responsible for the beneficial effects associated with high consumption of fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C in the blood helped reduce oxidation and inflammation in the body, a protective effect against the onset of certain degenerative diseases associated with aging.
  3. Boiled and drained red pepper is an excellent source of vitamin A for women and a good source for men, their needs being different. Raw red pepper is a good source for women and a source for men. Vitamin A is one of the most versatile vitamins, participating in several functions of the body. Among other things, it promotes the growth of bones and teeth, keeps the skin healthy and protects against infections. In addition, it plays an antioxidant role and promotes good vision, especially in the dark.
  4. Raw red pepper is a good source of vitamin B6 while boiled and drained red pepper, green pepper and yellow pepper are sources. Vitamin B6, also called pyridoxine, is part of coenzymes that participate in the metabolism of proteins and fatty acids as well as in the synthesis (manufacture) of neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses). It also contributes to the production of red blood cells and allows them to transport more oxygen. Pyridoxine is also necessary for the transformation of glycogen into glucose and it contributes to the proper functioning of the immune system. This vitamin finally plays a role in the formation of certain components of nerve cells and in the modulation of hormone receptors.
  5. Raw green and yellow bell peppers are sources of manganese for women. Manganese acts as a cofactor for several enzymes that facilitate a dozen different metabolic processes. It also participates in the prevention of damage caused by free radicals.
  6. Raw or boiled and drained green peppers, boiled and drained red peppers and raw yellow peppers are all sources of copper. As a constituent of several enzymes, copper is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin and collagen (protein used for the structure and repair of tissues) in the body. Several copper-containing enzymes also help the body’s defense against free radicals.
  7. Raw red pepper is a source of vitamin B2, also known as riboflavin. Like vitamin B1, it plays a role in the energy metabolism of all cells. In addition, it contributes to tissue growth and repair, hormone production and the formation of red blood cells.
  8. Raw red and yellow peppers are sources of vitamin B3 for women. Also called niacin, vitamin B3 participates in many metabolic reactions and contributes particularly to the production of energy from the carbohydrates, lipids, proteins and alcohol that we ingest. It also collaborates in the DNA formation process, allowing normal growth and development.
  9. Raw red pepper is a source of pantothenic acid. Also called vitamin B5, pantothenic acid is part of a key coenzyme that allows us to adequately use the energy present in the food we eat. It also participates in several stages of the synthesis (manufacture) of steroid hormones, neurotransmitters (messengers in nerve impulses) and hemoglobin.
  10. Raw yellow pepper is a source of folate. Folate (vitamin B9) is involved in the production of all cells in the body, including red blood cells. This vitamin plays an essential role in the production of genetic material (DNA, RNA), in the functioning of the nervous system and the immune system, as well as in the healing of wounds and wounds. As it is necessary for the production of new cells, adequate consumption is essential during periods of growth and for the development of the fetus.
  11. Green pepper is a source of vitamin K. Vitamin K is necessary for the synthesis (production) of proteins associated with blood clotting (both stimulation and inhibition of blood clotting). It also plays a role in bone formation. In addition to being found in food, vitamin K is manufactured by bacteria present in the intestine, hence the rarity of deficiencies in this vitamin.

Choosing the right pepper

To choose a good pepper, it must be firm with a shiny skin, without spots or bruises.

The different varieties

Although it is used as a vegetable, the pepper is actually the fruit of a plant. There are several varieties that differ in their shapes, sizes, flavors and, most importantly, their colors. The peppers change color during ripening: the green pepper is picked before it is fully ripe. If left on the plant, it will turn yellow, then orange and then red at the very end of its ripening.

Keep well

It is best to keep the pepper in a cool, dry place rather than in the refrigerator, if you plan to eat it quickly.

Refrigerator: will keep for about a week in the vegetable drawer. Place it without washing it in a perforated bag.

Freezer: wash and remove the seeds and the white membranes of the peppers. Cut into dices, slices or strips. Spread the pieces on a metal sheet and put in the freezer for at least an hour. Then enclose the pieces of pepper in airtight bags and put back to freeze. You can also blanch the peppers beforehand by boiling them for 5 minutes.

Preparation of the pepper

How to cook it? How to match it?

To peel the pepper, it is usually recommended to roast it on all sides directly over the flame of a gas stove, using a torch or in the oven. When the skin is partially charred, we put it in a paper or plastic bag to make it “sweat” for about twenty minutes. The skin then peels off easily. However, this process has the effect of modifying the organoleptic qualities of the pepper and giving it a roasted flavor which is not suitable for all recipes. In these cases, peel it with a vegetable peeler after splitting it in four.

Remove the seeds as well as the rather indigestible white membrane.

  • Fried, stir-fried or grilled: we generally choose for this use varieties of elongated shape and thin flesh.
  • In brine or vinegar, miniature peppers or banana peppers are preferred.
  • Stuffed: with meat, fish, rice or vegetables. The four-lobed pepper is generally used, but the Bull’s Horn is perfectly suited for this purpose.
  • Pan-fried with seafood (squid or scallop), crushed tomatoes, garlic, fish stock and a spicy sausage cut into rings. Cook uncovered, keep the seafood and sausage warm, reduce the sauce and serve.
  • In the olive oil: roast then peel the red and green peppers, cut them into strips and cover them with olive oil that has been seasoned with pressed garlic and salt. Serve as an antipasto, in salads or on a bagel spread with cream cheese.
  • As a dip: simple strips of raw pepper dipped in thick yogurt seasoned with fresh herbs make an excellent appetizer. Vary the colors.
  • In omelets, ratatouille or paella, salads and salsas.
  • In the Basque piperade: sauté onions without browning them, add tomatoes and small sweet green peppers (or, failing this, strips of a large pepper), cook until the tomatoes have made their water. Whisk eggs, add to vegetables and cook just until they begin to freeze. Mince Bayonne ham (or prosciutto), brown it in a pan and add it to the piperade. If desired, garnish with an Espelette pepper.
  • As a coulis on pasta, vegetables, terrine, etc.
  • In soups and soups.
  • In jellies and jams.
  • Thread small peppers on skewers with pearl onions and cherry tomatoes, brush with olive oil, thyme and rosemary, and cook over the coals or on the barbecue.

Allergies

Green pepper is one of the foods that can be implicated in oral allergy syndrome. This syndrome is an allergic reaction to certain proteins from a range of fruits, vegetables and nuts. It affects some people with allergies to environmental pollens. This syndrome is almost always preceded by hay fever. When some people allergic to birch pollen consume raw green pepper (cooking usually degrades allergenic proteins), an immunological reaction may occur. Local symptoms limited to the mouth, lips and throat such as itching and burning sensations may then occur, then usually disappear within a few minutes after consuming or touching the offending food. In the absence of other symptoms, this reaction is not serious and the consumption of green pepper does not have to be systematically avoided. However, it is recommended that you consult an allergist to determine the cause of reactions to plant foods. The latter will be able to assess whether special precautions should be taken.

History of the pepper

The term “pepper” comes from the word pepper. When Christopher Columbus (or rather his doctor) discovered the small red berries of a variety of peppers, he believed that it was red pepper and that the crew had finally arrived in India. It was, of course, a mistake, but the word pepper remained. “Poivron” appeared in the French language in 1785: it designates fruits with a sweet flavor. This word is used more commonly by the French, who prefer to reserve the term “chilli” for varieties with a spicy flavor, while in Quebec, we speak more readily of “sweet chilli”, an expression which is quite valid.

Singular peppers

If, for decades, the North American market has been dominated by the four-lobed pepper, we find more and more varieties with elongated shape, in particular cubanelle, Horn of bull (or Buffalo horn), chili banana, sweet cayenne and miniature peppers of various shapes. And this, in a range of colors from green to brown, including cream, yellow, orange, red and purple.

According to vestiges found in a Tehuacan cave in Mexico, the chili pepper has been domesticated for at least 7,000 years (9,000 according to some, which would make it the most anciently cultivated plant in America).

When we compare the small hot pepper of the Cayenne type, considered as a spice, to the large pepper on the market, considered as a vegetable, we can hardly believe that they come from the same plant. This is the case, however, and this explains the confusion that sometimes exists between the terms “pepper” and “chilli”. Native to Bolivia and the neighboring regions, from where it quickly spread throughout the zone which covers South America, Central America and Mexico, the chili pepper has been the subject of an important work of selection that has led to the multitude of varieties that we know today, and whose flavor ranges from very sweet to very spicy.

Upon returning from his first trip to America, Christopher Columbus will introduce chilli into Europe. The Spanish, relayed by the Portuguese, will then spread it quickly around the world, and it will be adopted in many national cuisines. It is not known when exactly the four-lobed pepper appeared in Europe, but it was first mentioned in 1699 by an Englishman by the name of Wafer, a pirate by trade, who would have seen plants in Panama loaded with these big fruits.

For further

Organic gardening

Why not grow one or two peppers in containers with wheels, which you can enter at night to protect them from frost? Well watered, fertilized and sheltered from the wind, they will often give better than open-field plants.

  • Sow the seeds eight to ten weeks before the last planned frost in indoor containers, and ensure that the plants receive all the light they need.
  • Transplant when the soil is well warmed in a sunny place, spacing 30 to 45 cm in the row and 70 to 90 cm between the rows. To help warm the soil, cover the flower bed or row with black plastic as soon as possible in the spring. When planting, replace the plastic with thick mulch of leaves or straw.
  • Fertilization: before planting, add a good shovel of compost in the hole and then fertilize every two weeks with a foliar fertilizer based on algae and fish extract.
  • Protect the plants with a geotextile fabric or plastic cages when the night temperature drops below 15 ºC.
  • In windy regions, it is best to stake the plants.

Between the time when the pepper reaches its full size and when it turns red (full ripening), it will take, depending on the variety, 12 to 28 days if the temperature is between 18 ºC and 24 ºC. Below 18 ºC, the ripening process slows down considerably, while below 15 ºC, it ceases completely. It is therefore important to choose early varieties. In the four-lobed pepper category, King Arthur, Lady Bell, La Bamba, Merlin, Ace, Bell Boy and Red Knight are doing well in our climates. In the other categories, Round of Hungary (ribbed round), Lipstick (cone-shaped) and Jingle Bells (miniature) are also early.

Ecology and environment

The genus Capsicum includes many wild species which are practically unexploited in agriculture. However, because of their genetic diversity, these species constitute an exceptional resource for those who work for the improvement of cultivated species and the creation of new varieties. Unfortunately, this genetic diversity is currently threatened because the wild habitats of Capsicum are subject to strong pressure caused by human activities, in particular by deforestation, which is practiced on a large scale in South America. Researchers interested in Capsicum are therefore working on setting up seed banks in the hope of saving what remains of this important genetic background.

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